Chelsea's final stage of preparation for the new season begins with a trip to Hungary to take on Ferencvaros. The opposition are the traditional ruling power of football in that country and should provide a stern test.
At this point in preseason, you can usually expect more action from familiar faces. That should be the case for Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho, as he attempts to get new signings up to speed.
Before delving into a preview, here's all the relevant schedule information ahead of this friendly:
|Date, Start Time, TV and Live Stream Details|
|Date||Start Time||Venue||TV||Live Stream|
|Sunday, August 10||7.45 p.m. BST / 2.45 p.m. ET||Albert Florian Stadium, Budapest||Chelsea TV / beIN Sports USA||ChelseaFC.com / beIN SPORTS CONNECT|
|ChelseaFC.com and Abdullah Zubair of LiveSoccerTV.com|
Mourinho Would Be Smart to Rest Diego Costa
Many key players are likely to feature for Chelsea, but one who probably shouldn't is new striker Diego Costa. The ex-Atletico Madrid talisman has enjoyed a fine preseason, but he was certainly subjected to some rough treatment during his new club's recent friendly against Fenerbahce.
Specifically, it was a horrifying challenge by centre-back Bruno Alves that set pulses racing. Costa tumbled through the air just trying to escape the attack.
Video of the challenge is below, but note it's not for the faint of heart:
With a return to London to face Real Sociedad scheduled just two days after the game in Hungary, now might be the perfect time to take Costa out of the fray.
That would also provide Mourinho with an opportunity to audition veterans Didier Drogba and Fernando Torres as he seeks the best cover behind Costa. It would be reasonable to expect Drogba, a Mourinho favourite, to have the edge.
Alternatively, Mourinho could take another look at using Germany international Andre Schurrle through the middle. That's something he did at times last season.
The World Cup winner needs playing time to improve his fitness ahead of the Premier League campaign. Schurrle got half an hour in a recent friendly against Turkish opposition Besiktas. He lauded the playing time as valuable minutes, per ChelseaFC.com.
Whoever is chosen to lead the line, Mourinho will want his team to thoroughly test a Ferencvaros defence depleted by the loss of star man Muhamed Besic.
The tough and skilled centre-back and sometimes defensive midfielder, signed with Premier League rivals Everton this summer. This game is likely to show how difficult the Hungarians will find it to replace him.
Will Real Madrid-Linked Petr Cech Appear?
It still seems strange to talk about the end of Petr Cech at Chelsea. The outstanding goalkeeper has been such a key figure over the years at Stamford Bridge.
However, Mourinho's decision to bring back loan star Thibaut Courtois has certainly raised doubts about Cech's future. Those doubts have been compounded by recent reports crediting Real Madrid with interest in the experienced and decorated stopper.
The Spanish side also have their eye on Chelsea goalkeeper Petr Cech, who has no desire to kick his heels on the bench now that it’s apparently become apparent his manager José Mourinho prefers the cut of Thibaut Courtois’s gloved-up jib. Should Real make an offer for Cech, Chelsea will ask them to get involved in some kind of swapsies involving French defender Raphael Varane.
A swap deal for Varane seems far-fetched, however sarcastically it was suggested. But Cech moving to the 10-time European Cup winners does not seem so outlandish.
Los Blancos are currently disillusioned with long-time 'keeper Iker Casillas. The Spanish giants are also considering selling veteran Diego Lopez to any one of three interested clubs, per El Confidencial (h/t Mirror reporter Alex Richards).
Chelsea may have already begun planning for life without Cech. Mourinho handed a new deal to 41-year-old Mark Schwarzer, per Sky Sports reporter Pete O'Rourke.
Perhaps the Chelsea boss is ready to cash in on Cech. If the quality 'keeper doesn't make an appearance in Budapest, expect rumours of his imminent departure to gather pace.
After finishing third and without silverware last season, Chelsea have been building steadily this summer. They completed their signings early and have quietly gone about embedding the new arrivals into the fold.
Preseason has so far been good to Mourinho's men. A confident warm-up in Hungary will continue Chelsea's excellent preparation for the new season.